HUD No. 06-103
August 21, 2006
CHICAGO PROPERTY OWNERS CHARGED WITH VIOLATING FAIR HOUSING ACT
Draper and Kramer, Inc., refused to rent one-bedroom apartment to a couple and their infant son
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development announced today that it has charged Draper and Kramer, Inc., with violating the Fair Housing Act for refusing to rent an apartment to a family because the presence of the family's infant child would exceed Draper and Kramer's self-imposed occupancy limit. The Fair Housing Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider to discriminate because of children in the household, which includes placing unreasonable limitations on occupancy.
The charge alleges that the owners refused to rent a one-bedroom apartment at 1130 South Michigan Avenue in Chicago to a couple and their infant son. Prior to the birth of their son, the couple had lived in a studio apartment in the building and wanted to return because the property was near the university where the husband worked.
In April 2004, the couple visited the property and inquired about renting a one-bedroom apartment. They met with a rental agent from Draper and Kramer, Inc., who showed them both a one-bedroom and a two-bedroom unit. During the showing, the rental agent asked who would be living in the apartment. When told that the apartment would be for the couple and their child, the rental agent allegedly stated that it would not be possible for them to rent a one-bedroom apartment because no more than two people were allowed in a one-bedroom unit.
In August 2004, the couple returned to the property to inquire again about renting a one-bedroom unit. During that visit, they met with the same agent. She remembered them and allegedly said, "Didn't you come here in April, and didn't I refuse you?" The husband requested a copy of the occupancy policy stating that no more than two people were permitted in a one-bedroom unit. The rental agent left and returned with the leasing director, Kelle Laarveld, who provided the couple with a copy of the occupancy policy.
At the time of the alleged violation, only one family with children resided in the 574-unit building, which consisted of 82 studio units, 410 one-bedroom units, and 82 two-bedroom units.
HUD's investigation showed that Draper and Kramer, Inc., enforced the occupancy policy without regard to the size of the unit, size of the bedrooms, or age of the residents. During the investigation, Draper and Kramer, Inc., failed to offer an explanation as to why it ignored these factors in enforcing its policy.
"Congress made it illegal to discriminate against families with children in 1988," said Kim Kendrick, Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. "In a time when finding decent, affordable housing can be difficult, equal access is more important than ever."
Housing discrimination charges heard before an administrative law judge carry a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for a first offense, in addition to actual damages for each complainant, injunctive or other equitable relief, and attorney's fees. Sanctions can be more severe if a respondent has a history of housing discrimination. Parties also have the right to elect to have their cases heard in federal district court.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, and people with disabilities. The Department also promotes economic and community development, and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet and espanol.hud.gov.
People who believe they are the victims of housing discrimination should contact HUD at (800) 669-9777 or DOJ at (800) 896-7743 or (202) 514-4713. Additional information is available on the Internet and www.usdoj.gov.